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Sunday, October 10, 2010

The sufferings inflicted by the contemplatives

Friederich Nietzsche, MORGENRÖTE: Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurteile


[DAYBREAK: Thoughts on the prejudices of morality]

Section 41

Nietzsche in 1876

"Section 41. Towards an evaluation of the vita contemplativa. – Let us, as men of the vita contemplativa, not forget what kind of evil and ill-fortune has come upon the man of the vita activa through the after-effects of contemplation – in short, what counter-reckoning the vita activa has in store for us if we boast too proudly before it of our good deeds.

First: the so-called religious natures, whose numbers preponderate among the contemplative and who consequently constitute their commonest species, have at all times had the effect of making life hard for practical men and, where possible, intolerable to them: to darken the heavens, to blot out the sun, to cast suspicion on joy, to deprive hope of its value, to paralyze the active hand – this is what they have known how to do, just as much as they have had their consolations, alms, helping hand and benedictions for wretched feelings and times of misery.

Dürer, St. Jerome in his study, 1514

Secondly: the artists, somewhat rarer than the religious yet still a not uncommon kind of man of the vita contemplativa, have as individuals usually been unbearable, capricious, envious, violent and unpeaceable: this effect has to be set against the cheering and exalting effects of their works.

Thirdly: the philosophers, a species in which religious and artistic powers exist together but in such a fashion that a third thing, dialectics, love of demonstrating, has a place beside them, have been the author of evils in the manner of the religious and the artists and have in addition through their inclination for dialectics brought boredom to many people; but their number has always been very small.

Fourthly: the thinkers and the workers in science; they have rarely aimed at producing effects but have dug away quietly under their mole-hills. They have thus caused little annoyance or discomfort, and often, as objects of mockery and laughter, have without desiring it even alleviated the life of the men of the vita activa. Science has, moreover, become something very useful to everyone: if on account of this utility very many predestined for the vita activa now, in the sweat of their brow and not without brain-racking and imprecations, beat out for themselves a path to science, this distress is not the fault of the host of thinkers and workers in science; it is “self-inflicted pain.”"

Dürer, Melancolia, 1514

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